Scientific Games Reportedly Considering Australia IPO to Cut Debt

By | May 6, 2021

Gaming equipment manufacturer Scientific Games (NASDAQ:SGMS) may be weighing an initial public offering (IPO) on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) as avenue for trimming a massive debt burden.

Scientific Games
A player on Scientific Games slots. The company is considering an Australia listing to raise cash. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

The Las Vegas-based company reportedly engaged Australian investment bank Jarden Australia to crunch the data on a Sydney listing as it looks for ways to reduce substantial liabilities.

An ASX-listing is believed to be just one option on the table, however sources said it was a serious consideration,” reports The Australian Financial Review.

In addition to manufacturing slot machines, Scientific Games also provides lottery services to states and wagering platforms to sportsbooks. Despite an array of cost-cutting measures at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the company still carries $9.43 billion in debt — more than $4 billion more than its $5.40 billion market capitalization. Its enterprise value, a combination of debt, market value and cash on the balance sheet, is nearly $20 billion.

Deep Ties Down Under

Scientific Games has ties to Australia that make a Sydney offering practical.

For example, board member Jamie Odell is a well-respected Aussie gaming executive and previously ran Aristocrat — the world’s largest slot machine maker — for 10 years. He’s also a part of Caledonia Investments, which last year purchased a $1 billion stake in Scientific Games from financier Ron Perelman.

“Also involved at Scientific Games is Toni Korsanos, another former Aristocrat Leisure executive now plying her trade on the boards of Crown Resorts and Treasury Wine Estates. Korsanos is Scientific Games’ executive vice chair. Jarden advised Odell and Korsanos when they bought in last year,” according to the Australian Financial Review.

Sydney IPO Makes Sense

Scientific Games selling shares on the ASX is practical on other levels. First, Australia is home to one of the largest, most mature gaming markets in the world, indicating the listing could resonate with professional and retail investors that are familiar with the brand.

Second, Aussie gaming stocks, like their US counterparts, are soaring due in part to devoted denizens of sports bettors — something Scientific games offers leverage to. Reflecting that ebullience, the stock is higher by nearly 368 percent over the past year, good for one of the best performances among all domestically traded gaming equities.

Should the Las Vegas company opt against a Sydney IPO, it has other avenues for reducing debt. It still owns a massive percentage of online and social casino developer SciPlay (NASDAQ:SCPL).

When Caledonia purchased the Scientific Games equity last year, analysts speculated the investment firm could push to reduce the SciPlay stake — then 83 percent — to raise capital and pare liabilities. With shares of the mobile games developer up 26.50 percent year-to-date, Scientific Games could strike while the iron is hot to further monetize its SciPlay position.

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